USCIS Reaches U Visa Limit for 7th Straight Year09 Feb 2016
For the seventh year in a row, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved 10,000 U visa petitions, the maximum allowed by law per year under this category. The U visa is reserved for victims of certain types of crime who cooperate with law enforcement to prosecute the perpetrator/s. This high level of demand for U visas has resulted in very long wait times for foreign nationals applying for this immigration benefit.
Background on U Visas
The U category was created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000. More than 117,000 victims and their respective families have benefited from this program since it was first implemented in fiscal year 2009 (FY09). More details on the program are available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Enhancements to U Category Help to Better Protect Crime Victims (23.Jul.2014)
Growing Backlog in U Visa Category
Demand in this category has dramatically grown each year, leading to extensive backlogs. The allotment of 10,000 U visas for fiscal year 2016 has already been exhausted, so the USCIS will not be able to resume approving U petitions until October 1, 2016, the first day of fiscal year 2017.
Nevertheless, the USCIS will continue to accept and review new U applications. Individuals who are found to be eligible will receive notification that they have been placed on a waitlist. These individuals will be granted deferred action, meaning they will not be removed (i.e. deported) from the United States while waiting for a visa number to become available. Further, these individuals may apply for employment authorization documents (EADs).
The Murthy Law Firm recognizes the strong interest of the U.S. government to protect foreign nationals who are victims of crime and who can help law enforcement to bring wrongdoers to justice. The U visa provides much-needed protections to those who otherwise may be reluctant to contact the authorities after being victimized.
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